Saturday 21 September 2019

Cork GAA star pleads guilty to assaulting woman in nightclub

Cork District Court - Ashling Thompson, Cork Camogie player.
Pic: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Cork District Court - Ashling Thompson, Cork Camogie player. Pic: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Winner: Camogie player Ashling Thompson celebrates after the All Ireland Senior Camogie Championship Final in September. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Ralph Riegel

GAA star Ashling Thompson (28) has pleaded guilty to assaulting a young woman after an incident in a Cork nightclub, which resulted in the woman suffering a hairline fracture to her jaw.

Ms Thompson - who has won multiple All Ireland camogie titles with the Rebels - pleaded guilty to assaulting Jennifer Coakley in Rearden's nightclub on Washington Street, Cork on February 25 2018.

The charge was brought contrary to Section 2 of the Non Fatal Offences Against the Persons Act.

Thompson has denied a second assault charge involving another woman.

Ashling Thompson
Ashling Thompson

This involves the alleged assault of Aoife O'Flaherty on February 25 2018 at Secret Garden, Rearden's of Washington Street, Cork.

Judge Con O'Leary at Cork District Court was told that Thompson was pleading guilty to the charge of assaulting Ms Coakley.

Inspector James Hallahan told the court that Ms Coakley and Ms Thompson were both in Rearden's on the evening in question and were socialising separately.

The two women were not known to each other.

Ms Coakley was walking through the nightclub at 2.44am and spotted a person she knew.

She stopped to say 'hello' to the individual who was in the company of the camogie star.

Without warning, Thompson struck out at the young woman.

Her elbow made contact with Ms Coakley's face and jaw.

It was later determined that Ms Coakley had sustained a hairline fracture to her jaw.

"She did not know Ms Thompson but she knew the other individual," Inspector Hallahan said.

Judge O'Leary was told that Ms Coakley worked in Abu Dhabi for the Royal family where she worked with their stable of horses.

The incident occurred on her last night in Cork as she prepared to move abroad for her work.

"I knew the person (she stopped to talk to). I was minding my own business on my last night in Cork. It (the incident) was not pleasant," she told the court.

Judge O'Leary queried why he did not have a detailed medical report in relation to the matter.

Ms Coakley said she had left Cork for her overseas work assignment as soon as she was physically able.

"I was trying to put it behind me," she said.

"I wanted a new start. I was moving away."

The court heard that, because of her injury, she had to significantly delay her work trip to the Middle East and a related work trip to Singapore.

The young woman still experiences difficulty with her jaw after the incident.

Thompson's solicitor, Eddie Burke, applied for an adjournment of the matter in relation to the second assault charge involving Ms O'Flaherty.

Judge O'Leary adjourned it until June 18 next when it will be listed for hearing.

The judge said he would deal with sentencing of Ms Thompson in relation to the assault on Ms Coakley on the same date.

Mr Burke told the court that Ms Thompson had been subject to "the glaring eyes of the media" in relation to the charge.

"It is very unfortunate that she has had to suffer that," he said.

Ms Thompson, who appeared in court wearing a canary yellow top and black leggings, did not address the court beyond confirming her guilty plea to the assault charge against Ms Coakley.

Ms Thompson of Shinanagh, Newtownshandrum, Charleville, Co Cork, has won a total of three All Ireland camogie titles.

A powerhouse midfielder, she has also been honoured with two All Star awards.

The highlight of her career to date was captaining Cork to O'Duffy Cup success over Galway at Croke Park in 2015.

She has also won four county titles with her club.

The star has worked to develop a modelling career over recent years - appearing in photo shoots in a number of newspapers and magazines.

When she was aged just 19 she was involved in a serious road traffic accident.

The accident left her with serious neck and back problems.

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